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Mediapro swoops on key Ligue1 TV rights packages as fees hit €1.15bn record

May 30 – Spain’s Mediapro has gatecrashed the TV rights party in France by snapping up key broadcast packages for Ligue 1 as total fees for the rights sale hit €1.15 billion. Canal Plus ended up with no rights in this round of bidding, in what is a major setback for the broadcaster.

“We’re well aware that what happened today will represent a turning point,” said Didier Quillot of the LFP. “[Canal Plus] bid for each of the seven lots, and for each of these lots, it was outbid by someone who had a better offer.”

Mediapro has Chinese private equity fund Orient Hontai as its majority owner. It beat Vivendi’s Canal Plus to the rights as bidding prices boomed by almost 60%. Canal Plus has a long been the broadcaster of major club in games in France. 

The broadcast tender involved seven slots and Mediapro won three, including the slot featuring the league’s top ten matches.

“We haven’t quite had time to crack open the champagne, but we’re happy,” said Quillot. “It proves that our football is getting better, and broadcasters are starting to recognise that too.”

“Our football is now more entertaining, we have a seven percent increase in attendances at stadiums and television audiences are up 25%.”

“It was a successful bidding process, with a significant increase of our TV rights,” said LFP president Nathalie Boy de la Tour, with the existing deal for 2016 to 2020 valued at €726.5 million.

Mediapro, which has been the long time partner of Spanish league and national team football, had previously entered the Italian market and gained the rights for Serie A only for Italy’s football league to annul the award over a lack of sufficient guarantees by Mediapro. The league has given Mediapro a seven-day ultimatum to comply with certain requirements. 

Earlier this month Mediapro and IMG offices were raided by EU fraud investigators, believed to be in relation to collusion between agencies on rights fees, with the Italian league deal being their focus.

All 20 clubs in Italy’s top division voted unanimously to scrap the deal, which was signed in February and included the domestic rights to Serie A for the three-year cycle covering 2018 to 2021. The deal had been blocked by an Italian court after pay TV operator Sky objected.

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